Review: Apple MacBook Pro 2016

Nearly 20 years ago in 1998 Apple revolutionised the personal computing market forever when it released the first iMac. Not only was it the first truly all in one unit containing a bulbous CRT screen and the guts of the machine itself it was also the first to do away with the beloved floppy drive and usher us into a new era of connectivity with this funny port called “USB”.

At the time I was working for an Apple reseller in Adelaide. The easiest up-sell in the world when an iMac sold was bundling a USB floppy drive and a USB to serial adaptor for connecting your printer. The dongle age was upon us and it wasn’t even the turn of the century.

Fast forward to today and Apple, I think, are trying to do the same thing with the introduction of it’s latest (and long, long overdue) iteration of the MacBook Pro (MBP). Continue reading

Review: LG 34UC79G 34″ Ultrawide Game Monitor

Ultrawide monitors are becoming more and more popular amongst gamers. Their 21:9 screen ratio and curved displays allows for a more immersive experience than could ever be achieved from a single monitor setup before. They’re also very effective in the workplace and remove the requirement of adding a second monitor allowing desks to be decluttered. It’s because of this almost all of the major hardware manufacturers are now producing monitors of this ilk.

LG have entered the market with a bang announcing a slew of monitors earlier in the year at CES that are now just making it to market. The blandly named LG 34UC79G (also known as the LG 34UC79G-B) is their major offering in the ultrawide gaming market and represents a relatively low-cost option for high-end results. Continue reading

Review: PlayStation VR

Sony’s foray into the burgeoning world of virtual reality is one that by all accounts just shouldn’t work. Its components are of a lower specification than its PC-based competitors. It uses peripherals that in the case of the Move controllers are over five years old and its brain; well that’s a three year old gaming console that can have trouble pushing out a regular title at 60fps let alone maintaining the required 30+ fps per eye required for VR. Yet somehow, and full credit to Sony, it all works amazingly well. Continue reading

No Man’s Sky: One man’s lonely journey into oblivion

From the moment I saw Sean Murray on stage at Sony’s 2014 E3 press conference I have wanted to play No Man’s Sky. Watching them walk amongst the strange fauna of a foreign world before seamlessly entering a space ship to ascend through the planet’s atmosphere into space, zooming around a giant tanker all in one uninterrupted sequence, it was just mind blowing. It had me hooked. It had everyone hooked! Sony had plucked a seemingly unheard of indie studio in Hello Games from thin air and rocketed them and their feature title straight to the front of the hype machine. Everyone wanted a piece of No Man’s Sky for the next two years. The problem is, no one, right up to the point of its release, could really tell you why because no one really knew what you did in the game. Continue reading

Review: Logitech G933 Headset, G502 Mouse & G610 Keyboard

You’d be forgiven for not associating the Logitech brand with gaming. A long time peripheral maker the company has a rich history of creating some of the best third party devices on the market. From keyboards to mice to universal remotes, Logitech have a great understanding of almost every aspect of our now daily interactions with technology.

It seems only natural that Logitech would take that knowledge and expertise and apply it to a new high-end range of devices made specifically for the gaming community. And they’re not messing about either. Feature-rich and aggressively priced the “Logitech G” series of peripherals are sure to impressive the most stalwart of PC gamers. Continue reading

Review: Oppo R9

Oppo has made a name for itself across Asia with a lineup of affordable smartphones, but the R9 was the first time I’d had a chance to try one for myself. When I heard that JB Hifi was making a bit of noise about stocking this phone for just under six hundred bucks outright I decided to jump in and check it out for myself.

Could this be a viable option for folks turned off by the $1000+ prices of a flagship smartphone in 2016?

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Continue reading

Review: Netgear Arlo Q Security Camera

It was just under a year ago when Netgear released their Arlo home security system. Each camera was wireless, waterproof and each suitable for use both indoors and out. Its hardware was everything industry leader Dropcam (now Nest Cam) wasn’t. Today, with the release of the Arlo Q Netgear couldn’t have created anything more similar.

The new Arlo Q will capture video at up to 1080p (providing you have the upload connection to support it) and features full two-way audio support via built in microphone and speaker. It also no longer requires a basestation to operate and instead connects directly to your home Wifi.

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Unlike its predecessor the Arlo Q is tethered requiring mains power to operate. This is done via an included USB cable and is far less of an issue than I thought it would be. Yes, a completely wireless unit makes positioning easier but for my needs a powerpoint was never that far away. Lastly whilst the Arlo Q will happily monitor the outdoors it will need to do so from the warm comfort of your home, the Q unfortunately not weatherproof.

Setup of the Arlo Q is straight forward. For a new user of the Arlo system you’ll need to jump through the hoop of registering for an account but that’s really the longest step in the process. Once registered it’s simply a matter of connecting the camera to your Wifi through the prompted screens and you’re ready to go.

The app — and subsequent online interface — have been improved since I first used the Arlo system last year. The clunky “rule” setup that defined where and how you’re notified of movement has been removed and the scheduling of when cameras are active has been vastly improved. The app allows for the creation of up to three activity zones within the Arlo Q’s 130 degree field of view to monitor for movement. It can also be used to stream live video as well as listen and speak through your Arlo Q in a relatively intuitive user experience.

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The camera is “armed” either manually or rudimentarily through a schedule you create via the app. Geofence activation has been promised again, as it was when I reviewed the original units last year. It’s disappointing to see the feature is still planned and not ready.

Alerts will be emailed to you when the camera picks up movement or hears a noise it considers too loud. Previously the level of movement or volume of noise was configurable but I was unable to find the option when using my version and I’m curious as to why it’s not there for the Arlo Q. At the moment any time a neighbour in my apartment block closes their door a little too quickly I receive a notification about it.

Where the Arlo Q — or rather the Arlo system as a whole — begins to let you down is its continued lack of integration.

The footage that’s captured is available to be viewed online or via the app freely and is retained on Netgear’s server for seven days — at no extra cost! Unlike it’s competitors the Arlo system offers a completely free tier for cloud video storage. To keep them longer or to enable the Arlo Q’s “rewind” functionality — allowing you to scrub through an entire day of footage — does require a monthly subscription. The fee varies based on the amount of storage you’d like and for how long you’d like it to be kept starting at A$12.99 for 30 days retention and 10GB of storage.

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Where the Arlo Q — or rather the Arlo system as a whole — begins to let you down is its continued lack of integration. Like the aforementioned geofencing functionality promises such as the integration into popular cloud service IFTTT have been a long time coming. Since day one of the Arlo system’s release users have been asking for it and according to product manager Damir Skripic they were due last December, another date long passed. Also said to come is integration into Dropbox for a more permanent storage solution as well as using cloud based architecture to better analyse footage and to reduce false positives, something competitor Nest Cam has offered for some time.

Regardless of delays to “nice-to-have” features the Arlo system, and more specifically the Arlo Q, offer a fantastic low barrier to entry for home monitoring. Technically it provides peace of mind 24/7 with night vision and live streaming (the same as its competitors) but it does so with a free tier for storage and it’s for that reason alone I continue to be an advocate of the product.

The Arlo Q is available from JB HiFi and other retailers for a RRP of A$349.